Some of the members of the public took a tour of the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center yesterday morning. All this week, there will be tours of the new center with special showings of the Science on a Sphere (SOS) located in the background. Developed by NOAA, the SOS is an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. [photo: Leua Aiono Frost]

The Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center is now open to the public and will be hosting tours all week for its most popular exhibit, ‘Science on a Sphere’ (SOS). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website, the SOS is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe.

Researchers at NOAA developed SOS as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages.

The staff at the center welcomes everyone all this week to their opening tour for the public, with two showings of the SOS, the first starting at 10:00 a.m. and the second at 3:00 p.m. They also wish to inform the public that if they have a large group of ten or more who want to attend one of the showings, to please call 633-6500 and ask for Malie Letuli or Apulu Veronika Mortenson. They will also be open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The staff explained that the SOS uses four projectors with a lot of different data sets, but right now they have 621 datasets, with the center looking to receive more. They explained that because of the internet, they are able to view live feed for different data sets, such as climate change, air temperature and ocean temperature.

Also according to the website, animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes, in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Science on a Sphere extends NOAA’s educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment.

Using NOAA’s collective experience and knowledge of the earth’s land, oceans and atmosphere, NOAA uses Science on a Sphere as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities and museums across the country. Science on a Sphere is available to any institution and is currently in operation at a number of facilities in the United States.

In explaining about the datasets, the website says they are divided into categories of Atmosphere, Ocean, Land, Astronomy, Models and Simulations and Extras.

The Ocean Center also provides visitors and residents with the opportunity to learn about the natural and cultural resources of American Samoa. The state of the art facility features educational exhibits and interactive learning tools to promote ocean awareness and encourage good marine stewardship.

The Ocean Center was made possible through the support of the American Samoa Department of Commerce, Housing and Urban Development/Community Development Block Grant, American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuaries.


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